Stewart ready to move forward after 'bad' stretch

Sat Feb 21, 2015 3:00pm EST
 
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By Lewis Franck

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (Reuters) - After 18 months of physical and mental anguish, three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart says he's ready to begin a charge for a fourth title at the season-opening Daytona 500.

"As soon as the calendar flipped over to 2015 I put the rest of it behind me and I'm not looking back," Stewart, one of the biggest names in motor racing, told reporters.

Stewart's struggles are the stuff of Shakespearean drama.

He suffered a badly-broken leg in 2013 that required five corrective surgeries and forced him to miss 15 races.

But Stewart's physical pain pales in comparison to the mental anguish following an accident last August in which he struck and killed a 20-year-old driver during a dirt-track race in upstate New York.

Stewart was not charged with any crime in the fatal incident but parked himself for three races while emotionally digesting consequences of that incident.

He was winless for the first time in 16-season career.

"I'm coming off of a bad year and a half, so definitely excited to get it all behind us and move forward," Stewart said ahead of Sunday's Daytona 500.   Continued...

 
Feb 21, 2015; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart (14) during practice for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports